Rabu, 30 November 2011

The Star Online: World Updates

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The Star Online: World Updates

Bomb blast kills 6, wounds 20 in Iraqi town

Posted: 30 Nov 2011 09:50 PM PST

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - A car bomb exploded in a street market in the Iraqi town of Khalis on Thursday, killing six people and wounding 20, a security official said.

Authorities immediately imposed a curfew in Khalis, which is about 80 km (50 miles) north of Baghdad.

(Writing by Jim Loney)

Copyright © 2011 Reuters

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NATO attack could hurt war on terror - Pakistan

Posted: 30 Nov 2011 09:35 PM PST

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - Pakistan, enraged by a NATO cross-border air attack that killed 24 soldiers, could withdraw its support for the U.S. war on militancy if its sovereignty is violated again, the foreign minister suggested in comments published on Thursday.

Supporters of Pakistan Muslim League (N) party shout anti-American slogans while burning the U.S. flag during a demonstration in Islamabad November 30, 2011. REUTERS/ Faisal Mahmood

The South Asian nation has already shown its anger over the weekend strike by pulling out of an international conference in Germany next week on Afghanistan's future.

Islamabad stood by its decision on Wednesday despite German hopes to the contrary, depriving the talks of a central player in efforts to bring peace to Afghanistan.

"Enough is enough. The government will not tolerate any incident of spilling even a single drop of any civilian or soldier's blood," The News newspaper quoted Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar as telling a Senate committee on foreign affairs.

"Pakistan's role in the war on terror must not be overlooked," Khar said, suggesting Pakistan could end its support for the U.S. war on militancy. Despite opposition at home, Islamabad backed Washington after the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States.

NATO helicopters and fighter jets attacked two military border posts in northwest Pakistan on Saturday in the worst incident of its kind since 2001.

The top U.S. military officer on Wednesday denied allegations by a senior Pakistani army official that the NATO attack was a deliberate act of aggression.

General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the U.S. military's Joint Chiefs of Staff, told Reuters in an interview: "The one thing I will say publicly and categorically is that this was not a deliberate attack."

The army, which has ruled Pakistan for more than half of its history and sets security and foreign policy, faced strong criticism from both the Pakistani public and its ally, the United States, after Osama bin Laden was killed.

The al Qaeda leader had apparently been living in a Pakistani garrison town for years before U.S. special forces found and killed him in a unilateral raid in May.

Pakistanis criticised the military for failing to protect their sovereignty, and angry U.S. officials wondered whether some members of military intelligence had sheltered him. Pakistan's government and military said they had no idea bin Laden was in the country.

The army seems to have regained its confidence, and won the support of the public and the government in a country where anti-American sentiment often runs high.

Protests have taken place in several cities every day since the NATO strike along the poorly-defined border, where militants often plan and stage attacks.

In an apparently unrelated attack, a bomb blew out a wall of a government official's office in Peshawar, the last big city on the route to Afghanistan, early on Thursday, police said. There were no reports of casualties.

The United States has long wanted Pakistan, whose military and economy depends heavily on billions of dollars in American aid, to crack down on militant groups that cross its unruly border to attack Western forces in Afghanistan.

More recently, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton asked Pakistan during a visit to Islamabad in which she met Khar to bring all militant groups to the negotiating table in order to stabilise neighbouring Afghanistan.

The NATO attack makes Pakistani cooperation less likely.

NATO hopes an investigation it promised will defuse the crisis and that confidence-building measures can repair ties.

But the army is firmly focused on the NATO attack, and analysts say it is likely to take advantage of the widespread anger to press its interests in any future peace talks on Afghanistan.

Pakistan says it has paid the highest price of any country engaged in the war on militancy. Thousands of soldiers and police have been killed.

Critics allege Pakistan has created a deadly regional mess by supporting militants like the al Qaeda-linked Haqqani network to act as proxies in Afghanistan and other groups to fight Indian forces in the disputed Kashmir region.

"The sacrifices rendered by Pakistan in the war on terror are more than any other country," Khar was quoted as saying. "But that does not mean we will compromise on our sovereignty."

(Additional reporting by Jibran Ahmad in PESHAWAR; Editing by Paul Tait)

Copyright © 2011 Reuters

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U.S. wants Myanmar to deepen changes, halt ties with North Korea

Posted: 30 Nov 2011 09:28 PM PST

NAYPYITAW (Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton began her first substantive talks with Myanmar's new leaders on Thursday in a meeting Washington hopes will embolden reformers in the reclusive country where entrenched military interests still loom large.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (L) listens to Myanmar's President Thein Sein during their meeting at the President's Office in Naypyitaw December 1, 2011. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj

Clinton, whose landmark visit to the country also known as Burma marks a tentative rapprochement after more than 50 years of estrangement with the West, began a series of meetings with President Thein Sein, Foreign Minister Wunna Maung Lwin and top officials from parliament in Naypyitaw, Myanmar's new capital.

"I am here today because President Obama and myself are encouraged by the steps that you and your government have taken to provide for your people," Clinton told Thein Sein as the two sat down for talks in Myanmar's ornate presidential palace.

Thein Sein welcomed Clinton on a visit he said would be a "milestone." "Your excellency's visit will be historic and a new chapter in relations," he said before the start of the closed-door meeting.

Clinton will head to the main city of Yangon later in the day for a private dinner with Aung San Suu Kyi, her first face-to-face meeting with the veteran pro-democracy leader.

Suu Kyi told reporters on Wednesday she fully backed Washington's effort to gauge reforms that Myanmar had enacted since the military nominally gave up power to civilian leaders following elections last year.

"I think we have to be prepared to take risk. Nothing is guaranteed," Suu Kyi told reporters in Washington in a rare public video call from her home in Yangon, where she was held in detention for 15 of the last 21 years before being released in November last year.

But Suu Kyi - a Nobel peace laureate and towering figure for Myanmar's embattled democracy movement - said the United States must remain watchful that the new army-backed civilian government does not halt or roll back political and economic reforms which have gained pace in recent months.

"If there are again arrests of those who are engaging in politics, then I think you would need to speak out loud and clear," she said.

Suu Kyi confirmed she would run in upcoming by-elections. Her National League for Democracy swept elections in 1990 but the military ignored the result.

The party boycotted last year's polls but will contest the by-elections - another sign of the rapid change unfolding -- and hopes to open offices across the country and start a newspaper, she said.

Clinton's visit was reported on page two of the main state-run New Light of Mynamar newspaper on Thursday, with a photograph of her arrival and two paragraphs on who accompanied her and met her at the airport.

On its front page, the newspaper published a profile of the prime minister of Belarus, who is also visiting in coming days, and a report on preparations for a regional economic cooperation meeting.


Clinton - the first U.S. secretary of state to visit Myanmar since 1955 - is expected to lay out clear U.S. expectations for the future of reforms.

Analysts say the process could eventually lead Washington to ease sanctions which have strangled the country's economy and driven it closer to China, its main political backer and the regional economic powerhouse which is watching warily as the United States steps up its Asian engagement.

Clinton is also considering what reciprocal steps the United States may take to encourage the reform process, which could include upgrading its representation in Myanmar to full ambassador or supporting more international aid.

Among the U.S. benchmarks will be further releases of political prisoners and genuine government efforts to resolve conflicts between the military and rebellious border-area ethnic minority groups, which rights groups say have spurred some of the country's worst human rights abuses.

Clinton will also urge Myanmar to halt what U.S. officials say are illicit contacts with North Korea.

The United States is concerned about Myanmar's efforts to acquire North Korean missile technology, and have also voiced fears of fledgling nuclear ties between Myanmar and North Korea, whose own nuclear program has drawn international sanctions and led to fears across Northeast Asia.

Among its demands, the United States wants Myanmar to sign additional protocols with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that will expand the nuclear watchdog's ability to monitor and inspect in the country, U.S. officials said.

Following her meeting with Thein Sein, who like many of Myanmar's new civilian leaders is a former army general, Clinton will meet parliamentary leaders, some of whom represent military hardliners sceptical of both the pace and scope of the reforms.

"There are elements that are more interested in certain aspects of reform, others that are considered to be corrupt or have ties to other countries that cause some concern," one senior U.S. official said, saying Clinton would make a clear case for the economic and political benefits of greater engagement with the West.

Clinton has said it is too early to discuss removing U.S. sanctions, which in many cases would require approval by Congress where many lawmakers remain suspicious of Myanmar and alarmed by persistent reports of human rights and other abuses.

Clinton's trip follows a decision by President Barack Obama last month to open the door to expanded ties, saying he saw "flickers of progress."

Officials said the United States - which dismissed last year's election as a sham - was increasingly persuaded that the changes on the ground are real.

"Even though the election itself we felt was deeply and fundamentally flawed, we have seen at least the beginning of debate and divisions much more openly expressed among key players around a whole host of issues," the U.S. official said.

(Additional reporting by Susan Cornwell in Washington; Editing by Robert Birsel)

Copyright © 2011 Reuters

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The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

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The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

Pippa Middleton, Kardashians among "most fascinating" of 2011

Posted: 30 Nov 2011 06:57 PM PST

WHAT do Britain's Pippa Middleton and the U.S. Kardashian family have in common?

They are all among the 10 most fascinating people of 2011, according to veteran U.S. journalist Barbara Walters.

Middleton, 28, younger sister of Prince William's new wife Kate, was named on Wednesday along with British reality TV guru Simon Cowell, singer Katy Perry and businessman Donald Trump as making the list in Walter's annual ABC TV special.

Walters will announce the number one most fascinating person of 2011 when the 90-minute show "Barbara Walters Presents the 10 Most Fascinating People of 2011" airs on December 14.

Other celebrities making up the top 10 most prominent names in entertainment, sport and pop culture include baseball star Derek Jeter, and "Modern Family" actors Eric Stonestreet and Jesse Tyler Ferguson who play a gay couple on the Emmy-winning TV comedy.

Middleton found unexpected fame during the British royal wedding in April when she wore a figure-hugging white dress as maid of honor to her sister Kate. She has been a constant fixture in U.S. and British celebrity media ever since.

Socialite sisters Kim, Khloe and Kourtney Kardashian and their mother Kris -- the biggest reality TV stars in the United States -- found new fame in 2011 when Kim held a lavish summer TV wedding after a whirlwind romance that ended in her filing for divorce just 72 days later.

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Kim Kardashian's ex files for annulment

Posted: 30 Nov 2011 06:49 PM PST

LOS ANGELES: Was Kim Kardashian's 72-day marriage to NBA player Kris Humphries a big sham? Opinions are divided on this raging topic of national debate, but Humphries himself appears to think so.

TMZ reports that, although Kardashian has already filed for divorce from Humphries, the basketball jock has filed for an annulment, claiming that the ''Keeping Up With the Kardashians'' star defrauded him into marrying her.

Individuals connected to the athlete tell the site that Humphries was unaware that he was allegedly being played for a pawn and hoped that their union would be a lasting relationship of eternal love, but Kardashian wasn't interested.

In the annulment filing, Humphries asks that Kardashian be ordered to pay his attorney's fees. The suit also mentions ''community and quasi-community assets.''

Makes sense - what's a quasi-marriage without a quasi-community?

For what it's worth, friends of Kardashian tell TMZ that she wanted the marriage to last - but hey, 72 days is a long time. People change.

Kardashian also reportedly wanted to file for an annulment rather than divorce initially, but was advised that the couple had no legal grounds for annulment - which, under California law, include impotency, incest, bigamy, unsound mind, force or fraud.

Since Kardashian filed for divorce in late October, many have speculated that the wedding was merely a ploy for money and/or publicity.

Kardashian has gone on the offensive over such claims on occasion - earlier this month, the reality queen filed suit against her one-time employee, Jonathan Jaxson, for claiming on a local Los Angeles news show that the marriage was staged.

Meanwhile, we still have nine months to speculate as to whether Kardashian's sister Kourtney will actually give birth to a child, or merely produce a Cabbage Patch Doll marinated in Fake Bake in order to score a few magazine covers.

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Hot to trot

Posted: 01 Dec 2011 02:21 AM PST

The all-new Capital FM is tailored exclusively for the modern urban woman.

PICTURE the perfect dress, that sexy little number you've been dying to try on. The one designed to specially accentuate all the right curves and make you look a million bucks. You put it on and grin. It's the perfect fit.

The gleeful satisfaction a woman derives from finding the right dress is precisely what Capital FM seeks to deliver, metaphorically speaking of course!

The latest radio station to hit our airwaves, Capital FM features programmes tailored exclusively for the modern, confident, urban woman.

"It's going to be something we haven't heard on Malaysian radio for a really long time, in that, we are going to be – I daresay, the first women-centric English station," says consultant Aanont Wathanasin (Non for short).

"All our shows are going to be geared towards women's issues and things that affect women from an urban perspective. Women make up about 50 percent of the population and it's a big chunk of the marketplace that hasn't had a voice. It's a great opportunity for us to give the modern woman a voice," he explained.

What about the other 50 percent? "I think they have enough access points for broadcasting," Non says with a laugh. "There are lots of avenues for men as it is and I think the smarter guys will probably figure out they can get a unique insight to their better halves by tuning in to our station."

A radio channel just for women, he adds, seems like the most obvious thing in this politically-correct day and age. "Our research has shown that women would like to be represented more in terms of radio content. I certainly think that women are under-represented.

"There are TV Channels for women, so why shouldn't there be a radio station for women as well? Now's the right time to do it."

Non said the station's goal is to connect with women by addressing their emotional and intellectual needs.

"Did you know, that the average woman still earns 75 sen to every RM1 a man will earn for the same job? It's things like this, among other aspects of society and living, that we will point out on our shows. Our station is really an avenue to give women a bigger voice."

In line with its tagline, "Women, the new capital", the station features an almost all-female stable of announcers. "We've got an amazing line-up of announcers that people would instantly recognise. They are celebrities in their own right."

He's not kidding.

A recent trip to the the station's headquarters at the Tropicana City Office Tower, Petaling Jaya, proved to be a star-studded affair when we found ourselves in the glitzy company of local celebrities Joanne Kam, Asha Gill, Patricia K and Xandria Ooi. The smiley, but more subdued Sheela Haran, and the affably low-key April Kuan join the ensemble crew.

The girls (or most of them) are a rambunctious bunch from start to finish, and are able to speak unabashedly on a gamut of subjects ranging from dogs to men. Sporadic shrieks of laughter punctuated this interview.

Kam, the fast-mouthed (and sometimes controversial) comedienne, immediately stood out. Famed for her flamboyant, larger-than-life persona and R-rated humour, the 38-year-old Penangite made her name in the early 90s as a stand-up performer at the "Studio 54" of KL – the Boom Boom Room. In her early morning slot on Capital FM, The Talk of the Town, Kam will mix female ferocity with unrestrained candour.

Like a shot of espresso in the morning, Kam is set to incite your senses, along with hunky television veejay Joey G. "We will talk about anything from how to fix a flat tyre in 15 minutes – so you don't have to call the next foreign worker at a nearby petrol station – to the latest dance fads and dieting. I've been on a diet all my life, so I would know what I'm talking about," she reveals.

For one who has spent most of her career in the male-dominated arena of stand-up comedy, Kam seems to blend in with her station sisters surprisingly well. "It's so fun," she exclaims. "It feels like a sisterhood."

Kam, whose big reputation was matched only by her waistline during her Boom Boom Room days in the early 90s, shared her insecurities growing up.

She says (in an expletive-laden rant): "I was fat, I had pimples and I am the only Chinese (bleep) in town with a (bleep) afro. I'm serious. I have black woman's hair! I want straight hair like Xandria and for that, I have to go to the salon to iron it; only to have it go curly again in three hours."

Proving that the adage "what doesn't kill you will only make you stronger" is something to live by, Kam says she wants to motivate young women by relating her experiences as a child. "I was never the prom queen, never the one people wanted to hang out with, but I got past that. So many girls get demotivated, especially in this age of MTV when everyone is so beautiful. Young girls everwhere are going 'Oh my god, I'm not pretty. I'm never going to be that VJ.' My message is, you don't have to be pretty, you don't have to be that VJ. Some people grow differently. You understand your strengths, understand what you can do best and work on it."

Her segment is followed by one hosted by English-Punjabi television personality/newspaper columnist, Asha Gill. Asha, 39, gained fame as a veejay on Channel V International in 1999. Four years later, she began hosting the TV show, Lonely Planet's Six Degrees, a people-centric travel programme. Today, she is mum to a four-year-old boy and she writes a fortnightly column for The Star.

Asha will share her insights on modern living, with an inclination towards single-parenthood and child-development in Eat, Love, Play.

"I talk about juggling life and kids. I don't juggle life very well, which is why I want to talk about it so I can actually learn to juggle better. It's about bringing to light the things that people have to handle on a daily basis," she elaborates at breakneck speed.

"When I became a mum, I realised I was not allowed to be selfish anymore and that was very difficult. I had to be the driver, cook, clown, carer, nurse – you have all these new jobs and you don't know exactly what to do because it's your first child," Asha recalls. "But you have to figure out just how to fit all that in and find the right balance between work and family life.

Chinese-Danish host Patricia Sue-Lin Knudsen, 24, lends an exotic flavour to the station. She goes by the moniker Patricia K and is also currently a host on ESPN's Castrol Football Crazy. A television host as well as a popular fixture in the deejay circuits, Patricia will take listeners on a journey through the concrete jungle as she navigates the domain as an independent young woman in My City.

Patricia, who was born in Hong Kong, spent her early childhood in Japan before moving back to Hong Kong and later to Denmark, where she spent her teenage years.

"I think I bring a light-heartedness to the station, especially when I come in right after Asha," says the wide-eyed host. "I'll probably talk about topics like what's in a woman's handbag or the latest trends."

Meanwhile, emcee Xandria Ooi will rev up gloomy evenings with music composer and writer Liang on The Jam Break.

Ooi, 27, jumpstarted her career as a television host with Astro's Hitz.TV after winning a VJ Search contest in 2005. She later moved on to Ntv7's Life! Session. Ooi also regularly emcees in English and Mandarin.

"We're literally on while you're stuck in a jam," Ooi reveals, about her slot on Capital FM. "We're stuck in a jam every single day and we get upset, you know? So on my show, we will talk about fun topics like what kind of cars women should drive or how difficult it is for women to meet men. Or is it easier for older men to date than older women? Why?" says the exuberant celebrity who is married to music-producer Yuri Wong.

For Ooi, honesty is key.

"Women like to feel connected and we're not people who go around saying things like "Hey our life is so cool"; there are no facades here. We want people to know we are real and we want to talk about it."

Taking things down a notch, 43-year-old deejay Sheela Haran will provide the sexy grooves with her nightly R&B session, Groovedown. Sheela, who has been in the radio business since 1995, invites women to share their views on her segment.

"I play the role of the listener," she elaborates. "I'm not a professional counsellor but I find that when you talk about your problems, you sometimes get the answers."

Think of her segment as being on the couch in your own apartment with your best friend, she suggests. "It's a safe place for listeners to tell us about their day. Absolutely no guy-callers are allowed on the show, though. It is a safe place for women only."

Chilling out on weekends is writer-turned-deejay April Kuan, who will be presenting Saturday's Global Passport and Sunday's Jazzscapes. There is a Zen-like quality about Kuan that comes through when she speaks.

Kuan, 36, first got her foot in the radio business in 1994 when she secured a stint in DJ-ing and producing English programmes for a radio station in Johor Baru. She moved on to Public Relations and marketing in the music and entertainment industries before venturing into publishing. She currently does voiceovers for commercials and has been known to voice "smooth and sexy" characters.

A placid contrast to the boisterous cast, mild-mannered Kuan will bring her musical knowledge (which spans from country to jazz) to her sessions. Kuan says she treats all musical genres with equal respect. "Even if you dislike a certain genre of music, say techno, which some people find irritating, you don't have to diss it. You have to respect that other people like it.

"I don't get to talk as much as the others as I'm only on-air on weekends, but I do hope I'll be able to share my insights of life and hopefully inspire people," Kuan says.

Expect an eclectic range of urban adult contemporary music on the station. Kuan's segment, in particular, aims to introduce French pop and everything jazzy, including funk, acid and hip hop music, as well as popular K-pop and J-pop. Some of the more popular acts who will be on steady rotation include evergreen crowd-favourites such as Simply Red, Bruno Mars, Maroon 5, all the way to the 1980s English pop-rock Duran Duran and indie pop singer-songwriter Feist. It is a huge universe of music, after all.

> Capital FM Sdn Bhd, a subsidiary of Star Publications (M) Bhd, went on air at 6am today; set your dials to 88.9FM in the Klang Valley.

Girl Talk!

From Mondays to Fridays:

Talk of the Town with Joanne Kam and Joey G (from 6am – 10am)

Eat, Love, Play with Asha Gill (from 10am – 1pm)

My City with Patricia K (from 1pm – 4pm)

The Jam Break with Xandria Ooi and Liang (from 4pm – 8pm)

Groovedown with Sheela Haran (from 8pm – 12am)

On weekends:

Global Passport with April Kuan from (10am – 2pm on Saturdays)

Jazzscapes with April Kuan from (2pm – 6pm on Sundays).

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The Star Online: Business

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The Star Online: Business

Asian markets up in early biz

Posted: 30 Nov 2011 05:52 PM PST

KUALA LUMPUR: Asian markets open higher in morning trade Thursday taking their cue from the overnight strong performance in overseas markets.

Key U.S. equity bourses ended higher by between 4.2% and 4.3% after central banks in the US, Europe, UK, Canada, Japan and Switzerland took coordinated actions to lower the cost of US dollar borrowings. "Such a powerful rally on Wall Street will surely reverberate across Asia today," Hwang DBS told clients ahead of the opening bell in Asia.

The benchmark FBM KLCI will likely build on its two-day cumulative gains of 40.6-point or 2.8%, possibly overcoming the immediate resistance level of 1,475 ahead, it said. At 10am, all key Asian markets were up by at least 0.5% each while the FBM KLCI was higher by 1.27% to 1,490.

Market breadth was positive with 460 counters up and 104, down.

Nymex crude oil added 16 cents to US$100.52 per barrel.

Spot gold added US$1.68 to US$1,748.10 per ounce.

The ringgit was quoted at 3.149 to the US dollar.

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Oil up on banks action

Posted: 30 Nov 2011 04:56 PM PST

SEOUL (Reuters) U.S. crude futures edged up in early Asian trade on Thursday on the news that top central banks took coordinated steps to prevent a global liquidity crunch, although the rise was trapped by an unexpected increase in U.S. crude inventories. FUNDAMENTALS

* On the New York Mercantile Exchange, January crude was up 16 cents at $100.52 a barrel as of 0041 GMT.

* The world's major central banks acted jointly on Wednesday to provide cheaper dollar funding to European banks facing a credit crunch as the euro zone's debt crisis drove EU ministers to urge more IMF help to avert financial disaster.

* U.S. crude oil stocks rose last week as crude imports increased and refineries scaled back their processing rates, U.S. Energy Information Administration data showed on Wednesday. Crude inventories rose 3.93 million barrels to 334.75 million barrels in the week to Nov. 25, while analysts polled by Reuters had projected a 200,000 barrel drawdown, on average.


* The Nikkei share average jumped above its 25day moving average to a twoweek high on Thursday after the world's central banks took coordinated action overnight to ease funding strains among banks, easing worries about a meltdown of the global financial crisis.

* The euro and commodity currencies stayed sharply higher in Asia on Thursday while the dollar languished after major central banks took steps to ease a credit squeeze stemming from the euro zone debt crisis.

* U.S. stocks also surged on Wednesday on the central banks move news. The Dow posted its best day since March 2009 and the S&P 500 scored its best daily percentage gain since August.

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Korea Nov exports top forecasts, inflation up

Posted: 30 Nov 2011 04:53 PM PST

SEOUL (Reuters) South Korean exports in November grew more than expected while inflation climbed back above the central bank's target band, data showed on Thursday, reinforcing market views interest rates would remain steady for an extended period.

Analysts said the robust readings were unlikely to last as the global economy would slow further and domestic demand in Asia's fourthlargest economy is expected to remain depressed.

"I don't think the resilient exports are sustainable.

The whole world is cooling, so exports will inevitably weaken in the coming months," said Park Sanghyun, economist at HI Investment & Securities.

"Inflation will move sideways or gradually head downward, although the latest coordinated liquidity supply measures and the resultant spike in some commodities prices are now emerging as a fresh boost to inflation here."

Exports in November grew 13.8 percent from a year earlier, beating the 12.7 percent growth forecast in a Reuters poll, while yearonyear inflation for the month picked up to 4.2 percent from 3.6 percent in October, separate government data showed.

Overseas sales recovered after suffering a weakerthanexpected 8.0 percent annual gain in October but the outlook remains grim with the euro zone debt crisis seen weighing on the region's economies for a long time.

The Bank of Korea has a target of keeping annual consumer price index growth between 2 percent and 4 percent on average for the 20102012 period.

Domestic demand in South Korea remains weak as households struggle under a growing debt burden while the construction sector suffers from a sluggish property market.

A survey also showed on Thursday South Korea's manufacturing sector activity shrank for a fourth consecutive month and by the most in 13 months in November as orders declined from customers both at home and abroad.

The HSBC/Markit purchasing managers' index (PMI) on South Korea's manufacturing sector fell to a seasonally adjusted 47.12 in November from 47.99 in October, Markit Economics said in a statement. November's reading was the lowest since October last year.

It was the fourth month in a row that the index came below 50, which demarcates expansion from contraction in manufacturing activity, its longest losing streak since February 2009.

The subindex on new export orders received by South Korean manufacturers fell to a seasonally adjusted 47.76 in November from 48.21 in October, also staying below the 50point mark for a fourth consecutive month.

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The Star Online: Sports

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The Star Online: Sports

Adrian a good bet for World Cup title

Posted: 30 Nov 2011 02:52 PM PST

PETALING JAYA: Adrian Ang, fresh from his SEA Games heroics, is well-equipped to become Malaysia's first winner in the QubicaAMF Bowling World Cup which gets under way today at the Northcliff Bowling Centre in Johannesburg, South Af­­rica.

Adrian showed indomitable spirit in Jakarta to bag four of Malaysia's five bowling gold medals.

Now, the 23-year-old will be looking to ride the crest of that wave in his second World Cup appearance since his debut in Venezuela 2006.

Jacqueline Jenelee Sijore, who has been a model of consistency this year, carries the women's challenge.

Jacqueline was the winner in the doubles event with Zandra Aziela Ibrahim Hakimi at the SEA Games and the singles gold medallist at the World Championships in Hong Kong in September.

Team manager Cheah Ban Cheng said Adrian and Jacqueline were the form bowlers and chosen on merit.

"They carry our best hopes. One of them could well be our first World Cup winner. But it isn't going to be easy," said Ban Cheng.

The 47th edition of the World Cup in Johannesburg will feature 152 bowlers from 100 countries.

Defending champions Michael Schmidt of Canada and Aumi Guerra of the Dominican Republic will be out to retain the titles they won in Toulon, France, last year.

Also in the fray is former champion Diandra Asbaty of the United States, who will be making her second appearance in the world meet. Diandra was the women's winner in Venezuela 2006.

Representing the US in the men's category is Tommy Jones, who is making his World Cup debut. Jones has 13 Professional Bowlers Asso­ciation (PBA) titles under his belt thus far.

Other notable names are third place finisher last year Engelberto Rivera of the Philippines, who also featured at the recent SEA Games, and Kimmo Lehtonen of Finland, who is ranked No. 20 in the World Bowling Tour (WBT).

A notable absentee is South Korea's Gye Min-young who finished second in the women's event last year.

Bowlers will play four blocks of five games before the field is cut to the top 24.

They will then play eight games to determine the top eight who will make the round robin stage. The top three advance to the step-ladder finals on Dec 7.

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Manager George believes Malaysia can win last eight clash

Posted: 30 Nov 2011 02:54 PM PST

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia should not be written off despite their dismal showing in the group matches of the Champions Chal­lenge 1 at the Randburg Hoc­key Stadium in Johannesburg.

The national hockey team, who finished last in Group B with just one point from three matches, have vowed to bounce back against Group A champions India in today's quarter-finals.

Malaysia lost their opening match 1-3 to Canada before managing a 2-2 draw against Japan. However, they were outplayed 5-2 by Argentina in their last group match.

Malaysia have scored five goals but conceded 10 and India, coached by Australian Michael Nobbs, will start as favourites as they have been quite impressive. India, the Asian Champions Trophy winners, have scored 17 goals and let in seven in three matches.

Team manager George Koshy said in a telephone interview yesterday that although Malaysia have played India many times, they would find the going tough.

"India have improved a lot since we played them in the Asian Games in Guangzhou last year and in the Asian Champions Trophy in China in September.

"They are playing exceptionally well and have cut down on their tendency to overdo things," said George.

In the Asian Games, Malaysia defeated India 3-2 in sudden-death extra-time to qualify for the final. In their last meeting in the Asian Champions Trophy, the match ended in a 2-2 draw.

George added that India were also much fitter and play a fast attacking game.

"It will be tough stopping their forwards, who have scored 12 field goals. They are also quite lethal in their penalty corner execution.

"The Indians have scored a number of goals from penalty corners and our defence will have to work extra hard to keep their forwards at bay," said George.

"Our team have been too inconsistent. We had a bad start against Canada. We played an open game and lost. Against Japan, we stuck to a close marking game and did well to collect a point.

"Against Argentina, our forwards missed a number of chances and the defence made too many mistakes to concede five goals in the second-half.

"We cannot afford to play an open game against the fast attacking Indians," said George.

Indian skipper Tushar Khandker is their top scorer with three goals.

"It's going to be a challenge beating the Indians. But we have done it before and can do it again," said George.

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Thomas Cup test awaits Hafiz

Posted: 30 Nov 2011 02:53 PM PST

PETALING JAYA: KLRC's Mohd Hafiz Hashim's wish to impress the selectors for a third singles slot in next year's Thomas Cup squad will depend on his match against Indonesia's Tommy Sugiarto in the third round of the Macau Open today.

Yesterday, Hafiz became the sole Malaysian survivor in the men's singles as he advanced to the third round with a 21-8, 21-18 win over national back-up player Chan Kwong Beng.

Tommy reduced Malaysia's challenge when he trounced Pei Wee Chung 21-3, 21-9 while it was also the end of road for Iskandar Zulkarnain Zainuddin who crashed 17-21, 15-21 to Taiwan's Huseh Hsuan-yi.

World junior champion Zulfadli Zulkifli was shown the exit by Indonesia's Simon Santoso who won 21-15, 21-8.

A win against Tommy, Indonesia's probable choice for third singles in the Thomas Cup, will strengthen Hafiz's claim for a place in the premier team event. Hafiz may be past his prime, but he is still much better than most of the back-up players in the national squad.

In the men's doubles, Malaysia's top back-up pairs – Goh V Shem-Lim Khim Wah and Mak Hee Chun-Ong Soon Hock – were dumped in the opening round yesterday.

V Shem-Khim Wah went down fighting 19-21, 21-12, 12-21 to Indonesia's formidable pair of Alven Yulianto-Hendra Gunwan while Hee Chun-Soon Hock started off brilliantly before going down 20-22, 13-21 to South Korea's Kim Ki-jung-Shin Baek-cheol.

National coach Tan Kim Her said: "Khim Wah-V Shem made many errors at the front court.

"They must improve on their service returns and add some variety to their game. Most importantly, they must have self-belief.

"Mak and Soon are excellent in service return but, for now, they have to work on their speed and power to sustain quality shots throughout the match."

Malaysia will be banking on KLRC's Mohd Zakry Abdul Latif-Mohd Fairuzizuan Mohd Tazari and Mohd Lutfi Zaim Abdul Khalid-Vountus Indra Mawan to carry the country's challenge in the second round of the men's doubles.

Zakry-Fairuzizuan will take on top seeds Ko Sung-hyun-Yoo Yeon-seong of South Korea while Lutfi-Vountus meet Taiwanese qualifiers Huang Po-jui-Lu Ching-yao. If the Malaysians win, they will take on each other in the last eight.

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MMA gets six-month reprieve

Posted: 30 Nov 2011 05:04 AM PST

Published: Wednesday November 30, 2011 MYT 9:03:00 PM
Updated: Wednesday November 30, 2011 MYT 9:04:23 PM

KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysian Medical Association (MMA), which was deregistered by the Federal Territory Registrar of Societies (RoS) last week, has been given a six-month reprieve by the Home Ministry to put its house in order.

Home Ministry Secretary General Tan Sri Mahmood Adam said in a statement Wednesday that the MMA had made an appeal, seeking the withdrawal of the deregistration and the ministry decided to postpone the decision.

"However, if MMA fails to comply to the requirements outlined under the law and RoS during the stipulated period, the deregistration of MMA will automatically come into force," he said.

In October, RoS had issued a show-cause letter to the MMA, a 60-year-old association, following alleged irregularities in the running of the organisation as well as the election of its office bearers.

It is understood the MMA was given two weeks to explain four charges against it on matters relating to the association's annual general meeting (AGM) and election of office bearers, held in May.

Last week, its president Dr Mary Suma Cardosa had said that MMA sent a letter of appeal to the Home Minister in accordance with the procedure set out under the Societies Act 1966. - Bernama

Related Stories:
Troubled MMA files appeal
MMA struck off for flouting laws
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Khairy's speech a morale booster, say Umno Youth delegates

Posted: 30 Nov 2011 04:39 AM PST

KUALA LUMPUR: Umno Youth delegates described the policy speech delivered by their chief Khairy Jamaluddin at the Umno Youth assembly Wednesday as a morale booster in view of the upcoming 13th general election.

"I'm so lucky to have a leader like him. I'm sure that other delegates are also highly motivated by his speech," said a delegate from Perak, Mohd Noor Abdul Hamid.

Mohd Noor, who is also Bagan Serai Umno Youth assistant secretary, said he also hoped to see more young leaders filling top positions in Umno in the future.

Bakri Umno chief Mohd Fuad Tukirin said Khairy's speech had also instilled a fighting spirit and love for the party among Umno Youth members.

Bukit Bendera Umno chief Rafizal Rahim said that the delegates' reverberating shouts of "Hidup Umno" during Khairy's speech also proved that Umno Youth was ready to fight for the party and that his speech would be the foundation of the transformation in their struggles.

"Our members will remember his words as a morale booster for them in strengthening the movement, developing a new generation and implementing the transformation programmes in the country," he said.

Meanwhile, Petaling Jaya Selatan Umno Youth chief Ridzuan Mahidin also called on the Government to take seriously Khairy's proposal to see a Youth Bank set up.

"Most of today's youths are burdened with credit card debts. With the Youth Bank in place, their financial issues will be systematically managed and hence, enabling them to avoid having new debts," he said. - Bernama

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9,450 energy theft cases detected this year

Posted: 30 Nov 2011 04:27 AM PST

KUALA LUMPUR: Tenaga Nasional Berhad (TNB) has detected 9,450 cases this year of customers tampering with electricity meters at their residence and factories.

Energy, Green Technology and Water Minister Datuk Seri Peter Chin Fah Kui said TNB's ability to detect energy theft was due to the use of high technology systems.

"So far, 27 cases have been filed in court and 23 cases resolved. A total of RM244,750 in fines was imposed.

"Among other methods used to identify such offences was through public complaints and information from consumers, and analysis of half-hourly profile monitoring system for the large power users.

"The analysis was from the anti-fraud scanning system with artificial intelligence technology, especially for high-risk accounts," he said when replying a question from Teng Boon Soon (BN-Tebrau) in Parliament here Wednesday.

Teng wanted to know methods used by TNB to detect consumers who retorted to energy theft at their residences or factories.

Chin said this year, TNB had replaced 183,071 old meters to ensure more accurate detection of electricity consumption and by 2012, it is expected to change more old meters.

On the method used by TNB to control its officers from misusing their power by disconnecting supply to consumers, Chin said TNB implemented a computerised system for work orders, approved at various levels to enure there was no abuse of power. - Bernama

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Metro Watch

Posted: 30 Nov 2011 03:13 AM PST


SRI KOTA Specialist Medical Centre in Klang will organise a health related and fun filled activities with Upin & Ipin on Dec 10 from 9am to noon. There will be a colouring competition for 6 to 9 years and "Little Chef" competition for 10 to 11 years. Early registration will get free goodies bags, attractive prizes and meals. Admission is free. Pre-register before Dec 5. For details, call 03-3373 3636 ext 7313/7335/7356.


OWNERS of premises in the Subang Jaya municipality can renew their 2012 licences from now till Dec 31 at the MPSJ headquarters in USJ 5 or MPSJ branch offices at Bandar Puteri Puchong and Serdang from Dec 1 onwards. Payment can be made by cash, cheque or my@mpsj with credit card. For details, call the Licensing Department at 03-8026 3176/ 3177/ 4321 or visit www.mpsj.gov.my.


THE Brahma Kumaris Malaysia will hold a talk on 'Developing Inner Strength To Face Challenges' by BK Anthony Strano on Sunday, Dec 4 at 7pm - 9pm at Kelab Darul Ehsan, Taman Tun Abdul Razak, Ampang. Admission is free. For details, contact 03 4257 2333, Soon (012 208 0731), Indra Devi (012 217 3247) or Sandiran (012 202 6625) or kualalumpur@my.bkwsu.org.


THE Watt Club Malaysia (Alumni of Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, Scotland) will be having its 21st anniversary dinner on Friday, Dec 2 at 7pm at The Banquet Hall, The Ritz-Carlton Hotel, KL. Come and join us for a "Coming of Age" night. Contact Albert Teo (013 625 1948), SF Loke (012 222 8333) H H Kwan (019 2279 209).


A FRENCH Christmas Charity Bazaar will be held Dec 6, Tuesday, 10am to 7pm at Carcosa Seri Negara, Kuala ch Lumpur. There will be over 40 stalls and attractive lucky draw prizes. Funds raised will go towards the Madeleine's Children Fund for children with cancer. For details, call Florence at 03-6205 3264/012 685 2012.


CRIME and Investigation Network (CI) will be hosting a Crime Prevention Workshop at One Utama Shopping Centre on Dec 3. The workshop is to educate the public on how to be safe especially during this joyous season. The talk will be held at 11am, ground floor main entrance. For details visit http://www.citvasia.com/.


THERE will be a textile talk on Indian Trade Textile and Southeast Asian Court Culture at the National Textile Museum today at 10.30am. The talk will be held at Galeri Saindera Level 1 at the museum located at the Sultan Abdul Samad building, Jalan Sultan Hishamuddin.


LA SALLE Petaling Jaya Old Boys will organise its annual dinner on Dec 10 at Subang Golf Club, Presidents Room at 7pm. This includes dinner and entertainment by the Zarsadias Brothers. Contact Gregory De Souza at 017-333 7452 or email gregory.de.souza@olalspj.com for tickets.

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1,300 runners help contribute to take part in PIKOM Charity Run

Posted: 30 Nov 2011 03:13 AM PST

PIKOM, the National ICT Association of Malaysia, has raised RM25,000 for the National Cancer Society of Malaysia through its PIKOM Charity Run 2011 that was held recently.

The six-kilometer run through the heart of the city drew 1,260 participants of which 1,175 ran in the individual categories. The remaining 85 runners made up 17 teams from 17 companies who participated in the corporate category.

"We are happy that people from all walks of life and ages supported this run for a good cause. While Pikom has been contributing to needy organisations for many years now, this is the first time that we are involving the public on this scale.

"We wanted to make this year's CSR (corporate social responsibility) initiative special as Pikom is celebrating its 25th annniversary. We selected the National Cancer Society of Malaysia as the beneficiary as in the past, we have supported orphanages, old folks' homes, rural schools and organisations for the disabled," said Pikom chairman Datuk Wei Chuan Beng when presenting the cheque to National Cancer Society of Malaysia managing director Rubi-Ain Dahlan.

Wei added that Pikom hopes to make the Charity Run an annual affair. The Pikom Charity Run 2011 was flagged off from the Pikom ICT Mall, Cap Square at Jalan Munshi Abdullah by Olympic Council of Malaysia secretary Datuk Sieh Kok Chi.

There were five categories for individuals and a corporate challenge category. Winners of the individual categories were K. Venugopal (Men's Open), Yuan Yufang (Women's Open), S. Ganesan (Men's Junior Veteran), M. Rama Krishnan (Men's Senior Veteran) and Susan Khoo (Women's Veteran). They each won RM500 and a medal.

The rest of the participants who completed the run within the stipulated qualifying time received a certificate and medal.

Walking away with the Corporate Challenge title was the five-member Team Malaysia TMI from Telekom Malaysia Bhd.

The Pikom Charity Run 2011 was supported by the Federal Territory Amateur Athletics Asssociation (FTAAA) and Menara Kuala Lumpur. It is one of the highlights of the ongoing National ICT Month 2011.

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Managing compelling obsessions

Posted: 29 Nov 2011 10:25 PM PST

Obsessive compulsive disorder can destroy a person's life if it's not managed well.

I RECENTLY read about Singaporeans having one of the highest rates of obsessive compulsive disorder in the world. In fact, one out of 33 Singaporeans suffer from it! What is obsessive compulsive disorder?

Let's refer to obsessive compulsive disorder as OCD for our own ease. It's one of the anxiety disorders where a person experiences obsessions and/or compulsions repeatedly.

This will interfere with his/her life and ability to function socially, at work, at school or anywhere else as a result of the amount of time he/she spends being obsessed or performing the compulsions. The person does not like having OCD – it causes marked distress in his/her life.

OCD affects younger people, and men more than women. It usually manifests by age 30.

What is an obsession?

An obsession is a thought, impulse or image that recurs or persists in a person. The person knows these thoughts are irrational and suffers great anxiety for having them.

A common example of an obsession is the fear of being dirty, or germs; or thinking your own children are monsters (for real); or always thinking you left the water heater switch or gas stove on.

An example of an upsetting image that keeps on recurring is seeing a religious icon in a sexual manifestation. An example of an upsetting impulse is the thought of murdering your own children with the kitchen knife.

What is a compulsion?

A compulsion is a ritual or behaviour that the OCD person engages in repeatedly, usually as a result of his obsession. For example, if the person has an obsession about cleanliness, he may wash his hands repeatedly.

If he is obsessed with thinking that he left the gas stove or water heater switch on, he may keep on checking whether he has done so. He may even be on a trip to Penang, and his obsession and compulsion may then make him turn his car back to the house just to check this.

Other common compulsions include skin picking, repeatedly arranging items in a certain way or being obsessed about not stepping on cracks when you are walking on a pavement.

People suffering from OCD are more likely to develop depression and other disorders like anorexia, bulimia, hair pulling, generalised anxiety disorder and panic disorder.

Isn't a compulsion considered a habit?

Thre is a difference. A habit does not cause distress to the sufferer. A habit does not occur because of an obsession. The person with the habit doesn't think that his behaviour is irrational, unlike someone suffering from OCD. Examples of habits are nose picking, fingernail biting and knuckle cracking.

What causes OCD?

This is not really known, but people have noticed a genetic link, though a family member who has had OCD is not always a must. Another theory postulates that it's because you have an imbalance of serotonin in your brain.

Can OCD be treated?

Of course. You can go for psychotherapy, behavioural therapy, or be prescribed some antidepressants like the SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors). SSRIs are used for depression and anxiety as well.

You may not be completely cured however. Milder OCD sufferers who have no other anxiety type disorders do the best with treatment. But the moderate to severe sufferers tend to have some OCD symptoms persisting for the rest of his/her life. These symptoms may sometimes improve, and sometimes escalate, depending on life stresses.

How will I know if I have OCD?

You can take a simple self-test with these questions:

1. Do you have distressing thoughts, impulses or images that upset you and happen in your mind over and over again?

2. Do these upsetting thoughts cause you great anxiety or distress?

3. Are these thoughts more than just simple worries about your real life problems?

4. Do you experience the feeling of not being able to stop or ignore these thoughts or images even when you try very hard to?

5. Do you believe that these thoughts, impulses or images are from your own mind? (This is important, because many schizophrenics have delusions that they believe have been put in their heads from outside sources.)

6. Do you find it difficult to stop yourself from doing certain things repeatedly, like washing your hands, checking on things, rearranging things, repeating certain words or actions?

7. Do you feel like something terrible will happen to you if you don't do these things?

8. Do these things that you think and do repeatedly take up more than one hour per day?

9. Do they interfere with your normal routine, social, work or school life?

If you have answered yes to several of these, please see a psychologist or psychiatrist.

Dr YLM graduated as a medical doctor, and has been writing for many years on various subjects such as medicine, health advice, computers and entertainment. For further information, e-mail starhealth@thestar.com.my. The information contained in this column is for general educational purposes only. Neither The Star nor the author gives any warranty on accuracy, completeness, functionality, usefulness or other assurances as to such information. The Star and the author disclaim all responsibility for any losses, damage to property or personal injury suffered directly or indirectly from reliance on such information.

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The Star Online: Entertainment: Music

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Hospitalised singer George Michael "improving"

Posted: 30 Nov 2011 04:16 AM PST

LONDON (Reuters) - British singer George Michael's health is improving, doctors treating him in Vienna for pneumonia said in a statement on Wednesday.

The 48-year-old former Wham! frontman was hospitalised in the Austrian capital and diagnosed with severe pneumonia, forcing him to cancel the remainder of his European tour.

"The latest development in Mr. Michael's case -- which has evolved from a severe pneumococcal infection -- necessitated intensive care due to its severity and extension," said professors Gottfried Locker and Christoph Zielinski.

"We are happy to announce that Mr. Michael is improving steadily with an impressive regression of pneumonic symptoms and follows a steady rate of improvement as hoped.

"As we said previously, complete rest and peace and quiet are mandatory."

The doctors also appeared to address speculation in the British tabloid press that Michael was suffering further, potentially serious health complications and that he was receiving state-of-the-art treatment during his stay at the Vienna General Hospital.

"There are no other health issues with regards to the patient other than the underlying pneumonic disorder, and no further measures had to be taken," they said.

"Michael is receiving precisely the same treatment as any ordinary patient in Austria would receive at the hospital for this disease."

The Grammy award-winning singer found fame in the 1980s with Wham! before going on to pursue a successful solo career. He has sold an estimated 100 million records and has a personal fortune estimated at 90 million pounds.

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Korean pop music out to conquer the world

Posted: 30 Nov 2011 02:10 AM PST

LONDON, Nov 29 (Reuters) - A host of young Korean stars are taking to the stage in London, New York and beyond in a bid to crack one of the final global frontiers for Asian culture - pop music.

''K-pop,'' as Korean pop is called, has made major inroads into Japan, the world's second largest music market.

But breaking into key countries further afield like Britain, Germany, France and, most crucially, the United States, has so far eluded acts who may be household names at home but remain virtual unknowns outside Asia.

Korean bands are not the only ones trying to be the next Britney Spears, Lady Gaga or Justin Bieber.

Japanese artists, some of them ''J-pop'' superstars, have also looked overseas for new audiences, although the size of their own market, only just behind the United States in the world rankings, means they have less incentive. [ID:nL5E7MS3RP]

''It is a pain for a lot of these Japanese bands to make the effort to try and penetrate overseas markets,'' said Steve McClure, executive editor of McClure's Asia Music News and an authority on the region's music scene.

''Time spent doing that is time not spent here and it's a really fast-paced market and you have to work at it,'' he told Reuters, speaking from Japan.

Foreign music accounts for around a quarter of Japanese record sales, and the top 10 albums on record are all by local artists. Hikaru Utada holds the record with ''First Love'' from 1999, while Mariah Carey is the biggest international artist.


McClure, like many others, believes that K-pop stands a better chance at success globally than J-pop, although even that is far from certain.

The structure of Korea's relatively small music market is such that telecom companies control a large proportion of revenues, he said, meaning bands have an economic incentive to look abroad.

And K-pop acts, often created and nurtured by savvy record companies like S.M. Entertainment, are being groomed for specific markets - learning Japanese, for example, and fitting in with Japan's musical mores.

One recent success story has been the nine-member South Korean girl band Girls' Generation, whose first full-length Japanese album sold over 500,000 copies in Japan.

McClure also argued that Korean pop acts, though often manufactured, were generally more professional than their Japanese rivals and produced a better sound.

The most obvious, and biggest barrier to Asian acts breaking regions like Europe and North America is language.

Since music is about communicating ideas and feelings, common language helps. And the prevalence of English makes it easier for a singer from Toronto, for example, than one from Tokyo.

''The language barrier is probably the biggest thing that sets us apart from the global (arena),'' said G.NA, a 24-year-old Canadian-Korean singer whose first language is English but who has found success in Korea.

She, along with two other K-pop acts, will be appearing at London's 02 Academy Brixton on Dec. 5 as part of what the PR company handling the gig called ''The Invasion of K-Pop.''

It follows a K-pop concert at New York's Madison Square Garden in October. Those and other similar gigs outside Asia underline the ambition of K-pop acts and management companies to conquer the West and beyond.

It may be less invasion and more a small-scale foray, but promoters say there are encouraging signs for K-pop.

''We can't spend too much money if there is no market for us,'' said Ronnie Yang, head of CABA Entertainment who is organising the London gig featuring artists from Cube Entertainment.

''But we feel this is the right stage for developing a new market - there is demand and it is higher than before.''

G.NA, for one, is not getting lost in the hype. Chance, she says, is as important as anything else.

''This industry is kind of like gambling,'' she told Reuters by telephone from Seoul. ''You lose something, and you may lose everything. You may win and win more than expected. I think there's a lot of luck.

''It does depend on how much we try, but no matter how hard we try, if the circumstances don't work out, then things may not work out the way we planned. This concert is huge - if people don't like it that could be the end of that.''


The wide pop genre may be the hardest market to crack abroad, but there has been success in the United States and elsewhere within narrower categories of music like classical, dance, rock and heavy metal.

Japanese heavy metal band X Japan staged a North American tour in 2010 catching the attention of major news outlets, and have visited Europe, Latin America and Asia this year.

L'Arc-en-Ciel, a Japanese rock group, has flirted with the United States and Europe, and plans a 2012 world tour.

The event is limited in scale so far, however, with seven dates showing on the website including indigO2 in London with a capacity of around 2,500.

The band's guitarist Ken alluded to a cultural barrier which has proven tough to break down.

''In Japan I am always listening to music from the U.S. and the UK,'' he told Reuters by telephone, speaking through a translator.

''But I never really got the impression people in the UK were listening to music from other parts of the world. So I'm really looking forward to getting a sense of how those people in Britain will perceive our music.''

McClure added: ''Music is meant to be the universal language...well, yes and no.

''There does seem to be this inability to accept an Asian face in the world pop music market place. I don't know why that is, as there are Asians who have done well in other spheres.''

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Beyonce's ''Live at Roseland'' almost worth the self-worship

Posted: 29 Nov 2011 08:36 PM PST

LOS ANGELES (TheWrap.com): No one ever need organize a tribute concert for Beyonce, since she's done such a good job staging her own self-homage with ''Beyonce: Live at Roseland,'' a concert DVD that also doubles as a self-directed episode of ''This is Your Life.''

The second half of the program, shot during a four-night stand in August, is a nearly complete run-through of her most recent album, the possibly underrated ''4.'' Fan reaction to the record hasn't been as enthusiastic as it was for Beyonce's earlier albums, which doesn't stop her from introducing it (without any real elaboration) as ''my most defining moment.''

Preceding this is a 30-minute medley/monologue billed as ''The Journey B 4,'' in which the pre-2011 greatest hits of Beyonce's and Destiny's Child are excerpted mostly in half-minute snippets, interrupted by a self-serving stream of fact- and figure-filled historical commentary. It's sort of like the inevitable middle act in a Diana Ross show dedicated to paying lip service to the Supremes.

It's all highly impressive, and almost all a little annoying, if solipsism isn't your thing. Say this for Beyonce though: Even at her most egotistical, she's strangely never less than utterly likable.

She might actually be the world's most good-natured megalomaniac.

Part 1 was probably more fun to experience at Manhattan's Roseland ballroom than it is to watch on home video - especially if you already own a copy of ''I Am Yours - An Intimate Performance in the Encore Theater,'' a 2009 DVD filmed in Vegas that included a scripted Destiny's Child mega-medley almost identical to this disc's.

In the intervening two years, apparently no one told her she needed a script doctor to reshape a life story that goes a little like this: ''And the hits just kept on coming! But the success just wasn't enough to keep Destiny's Child together With a lot of success comes a lot of negativity Now it's 2002, and I just finished co-starring in my first No. 1 movie, 'Austin Powers' They told me I didn't have one hit single (on 'Dangerously in Love'). I guess they were right. I had five!... All the hard work (portraying Etta James) paid off, since it got me my second Golden Globe nomination '' And then this: ''What do you do after 16 Grammys and millions of records sold? Whatever makes you happy!''

Repeated triumphs over show-biz adversity aside, no one will be mistaking this for an Elaine Stritch one-woman show.

Part 2 proves far more satisfying, even though Beyonce may be overestimating ''4'' as the culmination of her career to date, if only because the tunes all last more than a minute each and there is no further boasting about the accolades she has earned from the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. Liberated from the lousy patter to pay tribute to songs instead of herself, she is fairly glorious. Naturally.

Almost across the board, the live versions of the ''4'' material are more invigorating than the studio equivalents, with Beyonce's's eight-piece all-female band making everything sound like the great cross-pollination of contemporary urban and '70s soul you'd hope for.

(You do have to wonder what that 10-piece string section - also all-female - is doing constantly sawing away directly behind Beyonce's, besides providing visual props, since you'd be hard-pressed to ever hear cellos and violins in the mix.)

''End of Time'' is a particular stunner, with drummer Cora Coleman-Dunham transforming an already martial beat into something like a one-woman marching band drum corps.

And Bey is at her best on ''Love on Top,'' which takes what is a very tired diva stunt - repeated octave changes - so far over the top that the trick officially becomes spectacular again. It doesn't hurt that she's employing her mastery of multiple key changes not on some hackneyed ballad but on a fun, Motown-inspired romp.

''4'' had more balladry than we'd heard on a Beyonce's album in a while. Three of the first four songs featured from the album fall into that category, climaxing with the memorable sight of the singer kneeling on a piano top for ''1 + 1,'' allowing us a chance to focus exclusively on the super-humanness of her thighs and, sure, vocal prowess that seems almost irritatingly effortless.

It's all good until the closing ''I Was Here,'' a self-celebratory anthem that seems to be arriving a few decades earlier than any superstar's valedictory ballad should. While Beyonce sings about the mark she's making on the world, you get random footage of the star traveling the world, admiring a portrait of Gandhi, earning more awards, greeting Make-a-Wish kids, and hanging with Nelson Mandela, Michael Jackson, Obama, and Oprah.

Oh, well. The straightforward performances were fun while they lasted, before they gave way not just to that terrible closing montage but also auteurist end credits that have Beyonce's giving herself title cards as director, executive producer, and co-show-director/choreographer.

It may be up to true diva devotees, of course, to rightfully determine whether all this sweet self-congratulation counts as hubris when we're dealing with an actual goddess.

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